• Explore and Discover One of the Last Frontiers in the World ...

    Jewel Cave

    National Monument South Dakota

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  • Caution - Roadwork on Highway 16 - Expect Delays

    Construction projects both along highway 16 and the Jewel Cave parking lot are planned during this summer season. The visitor center will be open daily, 8:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. Tours are scheduled throughout the day. No reservations for cave tours. More »

Historic Lantern Tour

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Visitors in Jewel Cave on the Historic Lantern Tour route during the summer.

NPS Photo

The Historic Lantern Tour is an adventurous tour into Jewel Cave.

Step back in to the past on the Historic Lantern Tour where your Park Ranger is dressed in a 1930s-style uniform. This adventure gives you a sense of what it was like to tour the cave in earlier days. Visitors enter and leave the cave through the historic entrance using an unpaved trail. The only light is provided by a lantern most tour participants carry and you will visit passages to the Dungeon Room or the Heavenly Room. The tour lasts approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes.

The tour route is approximately 1/2 mile long, and includes ~600 steep wooden steps (ladder-like stairs), and requires bending and stooping. This tour is considered strenuous. The age requirement, strictly enforced for safety reasons, is 6 years old or older.

There is a limit of 20 participants on each Historic Lantern Tour. Tickets are sold on a first come, first served basis. This tour is offered the second week of June through Labor Day Monday in September. Please call ahead for tour availability and check for fees and reservations. Tickets for the Historic Lantern Tour must be purchased or picked up at the ticket kiosk near the Visitor Center parking lot at least 30 minutes before tour time.

Come prepared for this adventure, wear low-heeled, rubber-soled shoes or hiking boots, long pants, and a light jacket or sweatshirt. Open-toed shoes or sandals are prohibited. The cave temperature is a constant 49 degrees Fahrenheit or 9 degrees Celsius. Persons who have heart or respiratory conditions, back or lower joint problems, have recently been hospitalized or have a fear of closed-in spaces, should talk with a park ranger before selecting this tour.

 

Did You Know?

Cavers at camp site deep in Jewel Cave/NPS file photo

From the elevator entrance, it takes over 11 hours for explorers to reach unexplored sections at the end of Jewel Cave. Some survey trips require cavers to remain underground for up to 4 days.